Kentucky has a long history of civilization, going back almost 15,000 years, which speaks volumes about its ability to keep people fed. Kentucky is filled with fertile land, from the Western Waterlands to Daniel Boone country and the Kentucky Appalachians, providing green beans, corn, potatoes, carrots, okra and wild meats like turkey, venison and hog for settlers to use as building blocks of the Bluegrass State's traditional dishes. Word is that Kentucky's cuisine doesn't travel too far outside its borders, so residents of other states might not know what they're missing.
The flavor of Kentucky
Situated at the north end of the barbecue belt, Kentucky has its own take on the classic slow-cooked, wood-smoked delicacy of the American South. Kentucky pitmasters smoke their meats over hickory fires, and it's common to find mutton -- sheep meat for the uninitiated -- served alongside the customary pork, chicken and beef.
Cooks, locals and anyone who wants to take the full measure of Kentucky barbecue all gather together in late spring for Owensboro's International Bar-B-Q Festival. Heaps of pork and mutton, thousands of wood-fired chickens, and subtle variations in sauce and style from every region of the state are on display, and nobody leaves hungry. For those who have to miss the festival, Moonlite Bar-B-Q serves up proper Kentucky-style smoked meats to Owensboro visitors all year long.
Patrons at the International Bar-B-Que Festival can also partake in a thick and hearty local stew known as burgoo, which is considered by some to be the most traditional dish in all of Kentucky cuisine. Although the particulars of the recipe are infinitely flexible, the generalities are known by all to consist of corn, beans, potatoes, okra, tomatoes and at least one meat (although possibly several, including opossum, squirrel, bear and other "heritage meats" of the Kentucky territory).
When done with a solid meal of barbecue and burgoo, it's time to see about some pie. Kentucky pies are legendary, whether it's chess pie -- simple and delicious in its many forms -- or Derby-Pie, a chocolate-walnut delicacy for which the recipe is allegedly known only to a few descendants of chef-inventor George Kern.
Culinary schools in Kentucky
Of course, traditional Kentucky cuisine is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eating in Kentucky. Major population centers like Louisville and Lexington feature dining options as wide in variety as any other distinctive metropolis. French Canadian restaurant and confectioner Ghyslain and Latin-Asian fusion kitchen Seviche in Louisville treat patrons with exquisite international flair, and established upscale kitchens like Dudley's on Short and Jonathan at Gratz Park in Lexington dish out New Southern fine dining brunch, lunch and suppers with just the right touch of class.
These and other culinary powerhouses need graduates of Kentucky culinary schools to help keep up their high standards of quality. It's a distinct advantage to a culinary school student to have committed and inspiring dining rooms nearby to learn from while studying and potentially work for after graduation.
The national food truck movement is taking hold in Lexington as well, providing even more avenues of inspiration for students at culinary schools in Kentucky. A food truck scene is typically a strong indication of a thriving culture of culinary innovation, and groups in Lexington are working actively to help mobile kitchens achieve the freedom of movement they need to make that happen.
With its roots firmly planted in tradition and its branches reaching further upward and outward with each passing year, the kitchen scene of the Bluegrass State is a great place for aspiring chefs to start their climb toward a career in the culinary arts. Learn more about culinary schools in Kentucky and how they can help turn hopeful students into professional chefs.
"History of Kentucky," Explore Kentucky, The Official Site of the Kentucky Department of Travel, 2013, http://www.kentuckytourism.com/explore/kyfacts/history.aspx
"Regions of Kentucky," Explore Kentucky, The Official Site of the Kentucky Department of Travel, 2013, http://www.kentuckytourism.com/explore/regions.aspx
"International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro Serves Up Array of Flavors," Kentucky Department of Tourism, Commonwealth of Kentucky, April 27, 2009, http://migration.kentucky.gov/Newsroom/travel/barbqfestival.htm
"Kentucky Cuisine," Kentucky Food, Kentucky Guide, 2013, http://kentucky-guide.info/food/
"The Best Restaurants in Kentucky Right Now," Esquire Magazine, Eat Like a Man, John Mariani, July 5, 2011, http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/kentucky-restaurants-070511
"Work group loosening restrictions on food trucks in Lexington," Lexington Herald-Leader, Beverly Fortune, Kentucky State Page, February 7, 2013, http://www.kentucky.com/2013/02/07/2507481/work-group-making-progress-on.html
For information on Culinary Schools in Kentucky, please visit any school below and request more information.